Annoying Trends In Modern Web Design

So as we all know the world of web trends is a fast paced one. Trends come and go before people can even enjoy them. Unfortunately not all of them go as planned, some seem to cause more usability issues than they solve – and for some reason these ones never seem to go away as fast.

Web developers start sheepishly adding these trends without thought and then they just become part of the ritual of web development. Today we break the cycle and talk about some trends that need to die.

“Clever” Ways To Get More Page Views

Clever Ways To Get More Page Views

I get it, you want more page views… Do you want to engage your users or enrage your users? Making them click “Next” for every entry in a top 20 countdown is infuriating. We need to stop the madness, just list it all out on 1 or 2 pages at most.

This isn’t very brilliant, you aren’t pulling one over on us. It doesn’t build up anticipation; it builds up those manipulated page view numbers in your analytics.

Like This Page To Access This Article

Like This Page To Access This Article

This one for some reason just comes off really bad. This is when sites started making javascript pop ups appear with Facebook Likebox to access the content. I don’t even care if it’s optional – it is just so obnoxious.

The content isn’t even anything mind blowing or of value – it actually tends to be gossip articles, news stories or something completely mundane. I think I’m not alone in saying I will click out with extreme prejudice if I see this box, noting in my head the URL to never return to.

The Standard CMS Look

The Standard CMS Look

I have even fallen into this trap a bit. It’s a very difficult one to avoid because if you aren’t consciously thinking about it you will fall into it. Content management sites (WordPress, Drupal, etc) sites always seem to have a look, usually made up of blocks and regions that tend to be half way themed and usually a slider at the top.

Now don’t get me wrong there are so many sites that are beautiful and still fall into this, but I think if we want to evolve passed this trend we have to be conscious and try to start theming content in new innovative ways.

Replacing headers and slider images with maybe a new stream of important content, maybe have the middle area engage users with javascript rather than the top part. These are just quick thoughts but we need to start moving out of the box, literally.

Social Media Everything

Social Media Everything

I think most web developers laugh at people who call themselves social media ninjas or gurus. I’m convinced that from this world came an idea to put social media buttons on everything. In doing so, hoping that in some bizarre parallel universe people will share to all their friends your “About Us” page.

Okay, for a news or blog post with real interesting content it might make things a bit easier but the amount of social media buttons and call to actions is way out of hand. Get a grip on reality and learn how things go viral and its place in the internet universe. No one is ever going to post to their tumblr your products page.

Creative Secret Navigations

Creative Secret Navigations

In response to the massive love Javascript and HTML5 has gotten in the last year, people started trying to figure out what they could hide or animate in clever ways. Unfortunately getting creative with displaying the menus became an idea among developers.

Sometimes dubbed "Mystery Meat Navigation" a user will feel like clicking a link is like opening a mystery door. If there is one part of a website that should be simple it is the menu.

Anything creative – whether it be animated slide out, fading in, icons or just images with no text this artistic styling only compromises usability for presentation and that is never a good idea.

Disguised Ads

Disguised Ads

Ads are a part of the internet, I can handle that – just don’t get all 007 stealth mode and make them look like actual real content. There are two reasons this is horrible, for one, you are completely misleading your viewers which will learn rapidly that those are ads and in turn not click anything around there including the real content.

Two – you are allowing the ads to water down the content which you should take pride in. I’m shocked to see even huge sites like Cracked and others take part in this noted "dark pattern". Users are smart and tend to learn from their mistakes, "fool me once".. etc.

Horizontal Scrolling

Horizontal Scrolling

There is no amount of keyboard shortcuts you can provide your user that could convince me this is a good idea. Users don’t navigate websites using their keyboard so when a website asks you to the user always has the same reaction “ugh okay I guess”.

And don’t try that Drag And Drop technique either, that one goes against all normal instinct. Just stick to the vertical style that we’ve all loved for so long.


There are a lot of trends that might not be great but there are a lot more that are fantastic (responsive design, push to mobile, new flat ui, etc). I think just pointing them out like this will keep developers aware of it and shun the practice and speed up their demise.

It really just comes down to usability, I believe that keeping things in a way that are intuitive for the user will really create the best final product. Use design not to stroke your own ego in creativity but to add on to an existing usable concept.

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  • Philippe Lhoste

    Yes, most of these points definitively cross my experience! I am particularly annoyed by those sites assuming that everybody has a Facebook account, or this page showing a content and only by experimentation I found out it is a slide stack navigated only by arrow keys (no “next button”, etc.).

    Good article, should be read by many designers… :-)

  • Mike

    It amazes me that some of the top businesses in the country have crappy
    websites. Way too many ads on a page, sacrificing load time for content,
    broken links and confusing navigation are just a few

  • Ed

    Another to add to the list. Those annoying ads that shifts the page down at the top when the site loads. They would make the button hard to find or small enough to make it hard to click on – which any mis-clicks on the close button would take users to the wherever the ad is from.

  • Bogdan Sandu

    Horizontal scrolling is right near parallax scrolling. There are many people who hate it. If you want to make a portfolio with horizontal scrolling, that would be ok, but a website for a client is a big no no due to usability concerns.

  • wnemay

    Can this post be updated with parallax?

  • Bogdan Sandu